In conjunction with the Allegheny County Library Association‘s ongoing Bridging Cultures: Muslim Journeys initiative, in May our First Floor librarians applied for and received a grant from the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This grant will allow us to present an exciting five-part reading and discussion series titled Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys, Literary Reflections, led by history professor Dr. Christiana Michelmore.
Dr. Michelmore received her B.A. from Smith College and her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, both in history. For seven years she lived and worked in Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Pakistan. Until her retirement in 2013, she was chair of the Department of History, Political Science and International Studies at Chatham University. In addition to her commentary on the literary significance of the selections, Dr. Michelmore will offer her historical insights as well.
We’ll meet on Tuesday evenings in the Director’s Conference Room, First Floor at Main, at 6:30 p.m. All of the selections are available in our library collection. The dates and titles for our discussions are:
October 29: The Arabian Nights
These tales from the alluring and clever Shahrazad are presented in a wonderful translation by Husain Haddawy of Iraq. Dr. Michelmore has requested that we read tales 8-10 (that’s the framing story). Additionally, “The Story of the Porter and the Three Ladies” and “The Story of the Three Apples” are suggested. Of course, read as many as you like. Enjoy!
November 19: The Conference of the Birds
Farid al-din Attar, translated by Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi, The Conference of the Birds offers an accessible introduction to mystical Islam and its poetry. Read as many poems as you choose.
December 10: Snow, by Orhan Pamuk
Set in Pamuk’s native Turkey, this novel follows Ka, a poet and journalist who travels from Germany to Kars to investigate the suicides of some local women engaged in political resistance.
January 7: Dreams of Trespass, by Fatima Mernissi
Mernissi’s memoir of her life in a Moroccan harem provides a vivid portrait of a country struggling with great changes in the mid-twentieth century.
January 28: Minaret, by Leila Aboulela
The novel follows Najwa, a Sudanese woman who has moved to England. She finds empowerment through her Islamic faith, and perhaps a surprising female perspective on Islamic history.
Registration is required for the series, as space is limited. You can register on our website: Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys. For more information, please contact me at newandfeatured at carnegielibrary dot org.
I hope to see you on October 29 for the first of what I know will be an educational, illuminating, and challenging series.